When it comes time a sell a house with a private sewer system, you’ll need to disclose some additional details to potential home buyers. This information will be important to allow the future owner to obtain the required permits and to continue properly maintaining the septic system.
These private sewer systems are common in St. Tammany and Tangipahoa Parish. This rural area experienced rapid growth years ago and has subdivisions, like Tammany Hills, that have small lots with no community sewer system. In fact, St. Tammany Parish has an estimated 35,000 sewage treatment systems at individual homes and businesses, more than any other parish in Louisiana.
Types of Sewer Systems
First off it is important to understand the type of system that you have. The common types include:
- Septic Tank With Field Lines
Field lines use perforated pipes below ground to drain a septic tank. This system requires a good soil that can pass a percolation test. This system is no longer installed in St. Tammany Parish due to the type of soils here.
- Aerobic Treatment Unit
An aerobic treatment unit pumps oxygen into the septic tank. The oxygen increases bacteria activity which break down waste materials.
- Septic Tank With Oxidation Pond
An oxidation pond is a shallow pond that uses natural air and sunlight to treat sewerage.
Information Needed For Sewer Inspection Permit
A home buyer is probably going to want to get a 3rd party to perform a septic system inspection. At the very least, they will need to get a permit from the Parish which will involve someone going out to look at the system. Tangipahoa doesn’t require much but St. Tammany will want you to provide the following information:
When was the sewer system last pumped?
When time to sell a house with a private sewer system, you will need to know the date the last time it was pumped out. Generally, the system should be pumped every 3 to 5 years depending on how many people live in the house and the tank size. If it has been longer than 2 or 3 years, Environmental Services will require that the system be pumped out prior to issuing a permit. In St. Tammany, licensed haulers like Honey Dippers or Cooper Septic Service can help.
Type of Discharge
- Surface Drainage
- Spray Irrigation – distributed through sprinkler heads and evaporates or infiltrates the soil
- Artificial Drain-Field
- Drip Disposal
- Over Land Surface Flow – property needs to be at least 3 acres and flow directed at least 50′ and away from private water well
- Below Ground Pipe to Ditch or Stream
Type of Septic Tank Material
- Metal – examples are steel; are not very durable and are no longer recommended.
- Concrete – strong and have a long lifespan but can be costly and hard to repair.
- Fiberglass – cheap and easy to handle but can tend to float in areas with a high water table.
Is there an aerator?
You’ll want to ensure that the aerator is operable and accessible. Ants are attracted to this equipment and can build mounds around it. The aerator should also be plugged in to a GFI outlet with cover. If there are any issues with the aerator or the air line to the system, the inspection will not pass.
Replacement After Failed Inspection
Sometimes you may end up with a failed septic system and it may be necessary to replace the sewer system completely. This would be due to the existing system not being able to properly treat sewer.
The Louisiana Department of Heath’s Onsite Wastewater Program licenses and regulates onsite wastewater treatment system installers. A licensed installer can help work with the Sanitarian in the Parish health unit that operates the permitting system.
You will need to collect and submit the following documents at a minimum:
- Property Survey – must include structure, location of water well, property boundaries
- Proof of Ownership
- Proposed Plan
In St. Tammany Parish, the Department of Environmental Services is responsible for inspection of sewer systems. They can be contacted at 985-898-2535. In Tangipahoa Parish, you will be dealing with the Permit Office and Environmental Health Unit. When it comes time to sell a house with a private sewer system, make sure to check with them to confirm you understand what will be required. It is not uncommon for the process to take over a week and you may need to proactively contact them to keep up with the status.
You can also contact us at Fairview Home Buyers. We may be able to buy your house so you can avoid going through this process. We can close fast and deal with the old sewer system after the house is sold and you have your cash. If nothing else, we can help provide some free advice on how best to navigate the situation.